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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 29, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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stopping the leak. bp admits so far top kill is not working. now what? tonight from high above the disaster, our questions for the company. deadly mistake. a scathing new report over who is to blame for an attack that killed 23 innocent civilians in afghanistan. nation divided. ten of thousands raise their voices this holiday weekend over illegal immigration. and, "easy rider," his life and career were right out of hollywood. tonight, remembering dennis hopper. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening, everyone. just a short while ago british petroleum announced their latest attempt to plug that oil leak beneath the gulf of mexico has not worked. for days, crews have been pumping heavy fluids into the leaking well in an operation called top kill. but tonight despite initial high hopes, those in charge say the tricky gamble has not been enough to stop the flow of oil and that they will try jet another plan. nbc's anne thompson is just back from an aerial tour of the spill with the top bp official. she joins us now from new orleans to tell us where they go from here. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. this is very discouraging news for the louisiana coastline. this afternoon, in a conference call, top bp officials, engineers and top members of the obama administration assessed
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the progress of top kill and decided it was time to kill it. after four days of heavy mud and junk shots to try and plug the well 5,000 feet deep, top kill didn't produce the results the world wanted. >> so after three full days of attempting top kill, we have been unable to overcome the flow from the well. >> reporter: what's next? bp will cut off a piece of the leaking pipe and place a small containment dome on top. in another attempt to keep this disaster from getting any worse. four times a week, doug suttles gets a bird's-eye view of bp's oil spill. >> you can see some sheen here. you see the streaks. >> reporter: and the cleanup effort. the bill so far, $940 million and growing. along with the damage. louisiana's few beaches are being cleaned but they concede the company must do much better in the oil soaked marshes. >> we're putting a lot more of
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the control, a lot more of the authority and a lot more of the people much closer to where the action is. >> reporter: bp and suttles are both under attack. he's received death threats, and today bp is being blasted for bussing in cleanup workers just for yesterday's presidential visit to grand isle. >> that's not to put on a show. that's actually to minimize the impact. it is frustrating that people say those things. >> reporter: now 40 days old, some experts say there are faster ways to clean up the spill. >> i think we should be seriously considering some kind of a tank formation with three, four, five supertankers, get this oil off the surface. >> reporter: suttles says he's looked at that idea. >> if the oil comes up in one spot that technique would probably be quite effective, but it doesn't come up in one spot. it is over a wide area. so that's why we end up using, you know, at any given time hundreds of vessels out there to try to capture it. >> reporter: as this drags on, bp's credibility problems grow. after having vastly underestimated the size of the spill, and the almost daily
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resetting of the top kill timeline this week, many here wonder if bp is telling the truth about anything. >> this is not our thing we do. we're not used to having the world focused on what we do and it is not what we're good at and i'll admit that. >> reporter: can you tell me you are telling the truth? >> we are. i personally am involved in every piece of this operation and i can tell you -- we're trying to be as open and as transparent as we can be. >> reporter: as for the efforts out at sea, suttles says bp will continue its burning and skimming operations and it will also continue using that controversial dispersant but he points up at least from the air it is using a quarter of the dispersant it once did. lester? >> anne thompson tonight, thank you. today's admission that the top kill operation has come up short is yet another crushing disappointment to those who live and work along louisiana's oil-stained shores. nbc's michelle kosinski has reaction tonight from grand isle, louisiana.
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michelle? >> reporter: for 40 days now, necks craned, eyes trained on screens, they have watched. >> sickening. makes me sick. >> reporter: waited, the bayou eerily quiet to see that man made volcano stop blowing oil on to their shores. >> if it keeps going, we're finished. >> reporter: now they hear the top kill is not working. >> pretty aggravating. pretty frustrating. >> i think we're being fed a bunch of bull crap anyway. >> they have to do more than they're doing today. if they don't, this place is going to die. >> reporter: the latest news, another disappointment. >> i don't know how much longer that oil is going to be spilling. and they say it could last for years. >> reporter: where few vacationers have dared come this hot holiday weekend, beaches closed, another day to sop up stinking oil. so far, crews have used more than 3.5 million feet of boom, nearly 700 miles, recovered nearly 12 million gallons of oily water, spread nearly a
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million gallons of dispersant. >> i want to see if there is oil in there. >> reporter: local business owners live it to find piles of cleanup workers used hazmat s t suits simply tossed into their dumpsters. >> they can work on the beach and bring their uniforms back here and dump it in a restaurant's dumpster? that's crazy. >> i don't know where the rest is going, but if they're doing this, who knows what they're doing with it. it is going all kinds of different places. it is sickening. >> reporter: it is tough to put into words the feeling here. to spend a month watching this excruciatingly slow process on oil gushing at a rate at least 12 times what they were originally told, to put a shred of hope in top kill, this is just deflating. they're asking what is to become of the gulf? lester? >> michelle, thank you. we want to show you the latest map of the gulf right now indicating the surface oil still mostly at sea. and while we have seen some of
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supposed to be the season of recovery from the recession. a new airport named for the area beaches that opened up this week was going to help. but now, from destin, all the way to the florida keys, much appears lost to the oil that isn't even here. >> this was our year to come back, to truly come back and make a difference. and a lot of folks had some bookings, and all of a sudden everybody started to cancel. >> immediate cancellation, sir. >> reporter: booking agents say bp is costing the tourism industry millions. and the oil companies should pay. >> how deep do you think bp pockets are? >> i think that they need to make this right. they need to make us whole. >> reporter: dale peterson says his 300 rental condos on the florida panhandle are usually sold out this weekend. this year, 40% are empty. >> they owe us, beyond any doubt, they owe us.
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this is directly related to their oil spill. >> reporter: bp has given florida's government $25 million so far, money slated for new advertisements like this one. >> northwest florida is open for business. >> reporter: but today, at the regatta big golf course in destin, there was no wait for a tee time and charter boat captains are mostly idle. >> it is more than frustrating. it is beginning to get terrifying. >> reporter: punctuating how bad it is, captain jarvis there who has been doing the charter fishing business for 33 years says he has never had a holiday weekend without charters, except for now. lester? >> kerry sanders tonight, thank you. on this weekend, when the nation honors those men and women who have died in military service, there is a highly critical new report from the u.s. military blaming american servicemen for the deaths of 23 innocent civilians in afghanistan. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel reports from kabul. >> reporter: it is a scathing
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critique of what can go wrong when fighting a war from the air and often by remote control. the incident only today fully disclosed took place last february in the mainly taliban controlled uruzgan province. u.s. special forces were on a combat mission with predator drones in the sky. at 5:00 a.m., the predators' powerful camera spots a three-vehicle convoy. inside are 30 people. the ground commander thinks they're taliban reinforcements coming to flank his troops. but he's getting wrong information. the crew flying the predator from computer terminals thousands of miles away in the united states says the vehicles only contain military agent males. after tracking the vehicles for three hours, the ground commander calls in an air strike. but the vehicles, today's report says, were filled with men, women and children, 23 civilians were killed. in february, and again today,
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the commanding general in afghanistan, stanley mcchrystal, apologized. today's report calls the actions of the predator crew in nevada inaccurate and unprofessional. it also criticizes officers in afghanistan for failing to analyze and communicate information. >> there has to be adequate supervision of these people. just because it is technologically keen doesn't mean this it can run itself. >> reporter: today's report is unusually blunt, four senior military officers were reprimanded. it is a message to the afghan government that the u.s. takes civilian casualties ser a time when american troops here are losing popular support. it is also a message to american commanders that sloppy intelligence won't be tolerated. richard engel, nbc news, kabul. back here at home tonight, tens of thousands of people on both sides of the debate over illegal immigration are taking to the streets in arizona where a tough new law is scheduled to go into effect on july 29th.
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janet rodriguez of our sister network telemundo has been covering the rallies. >> reporter: heading to the state of the state capital, a five-mile stretch of protesters, 30,000 marched through the streets of downtown phoenix with police officers standing by. >> we march because we recognize we are not marching with criminals. >> reporter: the law, signed by republican governor jan brewer, and due to go into effect in late july, requires state and local police officers to check the status of people they believe are in the country illegally. critics say the law unfairly targets hispanics who make up about a third of the state's population. recent college grad martin moreno worries about racial profiling. >> it is not fair that people have to live in a state and feel afraid of the police, afraid of their local government. >> reporter: peter morales came from boston. >> this law violates our
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fundamental principles of human dignity. >> reporter: susan done from long beach. >> people don't support this law. that is a minority of racists that does support this law. >> reporter: among the sea of signs calls for president obama to take the lead in the immigration debate, and live up to his promise for immigration overhaul. >> this president promised immigration reform this year. he has not delivered. the end result is going to be a cost to his legacy. >> reporter: j.t. was a lone voice in this crowd, supporting the law, on face, by the number of protesters. >> we're taking a stand against this that numbers don't matter, it doesn't matter how many they bring against us, we'll stand up against it. >> reporter: and supporters of the bill will be holding their own rally later on today, and they say sb-1070 is critical and long overdue and is critical to securing arizona's border. lester? >> janet rodriguez from telemundo, thank you.
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the fight over immigration reform and what's next in the gulf are the topic on this week's "meet the press." join david gregory tomorrow morning right here on nbc. when "nightly news" continues this saturday, the final moments on that doomed oil rig in the gulf. new and disturbing revelations tonight. and later, he roared into hollywood, but his life was no easy ride. we'll remember the one and only dennis hopper. c? ♪ i have a lot of stuffiness at night. allergies. i was just diagnosed with a deviated septum. here's how it works... [ female announcer ] nasal congestion limits air flow but breathe right's patented reflex action gently lifts open nasal passages to help you get more air. oh, yeah. yeah, you're right. i'm getting more air. oh, wow! that's pretty nice. [ woman ] if your nose could talk right now, what do you think it would say? i think it's saying, "i'm open for business!" [ female announcer ] for two free samples, go to and strip for free. [ female announcer ] for two free samples, when your eyes are smiling... you're smiling. and when they're laughing... you're laughing. be kind to your eyes... with transitions lenses.
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sometimes troubling details were emerging about the night the oil rig exploded in the gulf as survivors told their stories to investigators. nbc's lisa myers reports. >> reporter: survivors of this horrible accident say their last moments aboard this rig were marked by chaos and a breakdown in the chain of command. terrifying moments relived in hearings this week. at the time of the explosion, captain kirk kutcha was on the bridge with staff when alarms on the rig started going crazy. >> gas alarms, a flash of some sort which set our explosion, fire. >> we're talking about a lot of noise, a lot of fire, a tremendous amount of heat, and people panicking and, you know, the fear of losing your life. >> i could hear people screaming, calling out for help and i was terrified. >> at that time i didn't know
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what to do. i fell, put my hands over my head and just said, no, god, no. >> reporter: amid the mayhem, 23-year-old crew member andray fleitus told "the wall street journal" she realized no one used the emergency radio to call for help, so she did. may day, may day, she said, this is deepwater horizon, we have an uncontrollable fire. she says the captain then reprimanded her saying he didn't authorize her to do that. meanwhile, dozens of workers were desperately trying to get off the burning rig. >> when we got to the lifeboats, it was complete chaos and mayhem. people were screaming and crying that they did not want to die. and then we had to get off the rig. >> reporter: some jumped into the oily water, 60 feet below. alarmed that no one had issued the order to abandon ship, fleytas chose to act, announcing over the public address system, we're abandoning the rig. asked whether the chain of command broke down that night,
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bp declined comment. a transocean official has acknowledged there was confusion. but the company believes that the 11 men who died were killed almost instantly. a transocean spokesman also says that the fact that 115 evacuated and survived on the worst night imaginable is testament to the effectiveness of safety training, leadership, and the heroism of the crew. lisa myers, nbc news, houston. up next here tonight, remembering an original, a star who will always shine on. and to eat he run. whatever happens to be around. heavy greasy food that's hard on my diet... and my digestive system. so i eat activia light every day. activia light, with bifidus regularis is clinically proven to help regulate your digestive system. mmmm. the new taste is better than ever. and with only 70 calories activia light helps make it easier to watch my weight. it helps me feel good and look good too! ♪ activia!
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bad boy, an image he spent his life perfecting. dennis hopper died today after a long battle with prostate cancer. nbc's lee cowan looks back on his remarkable and sometimes controversial career. ♪ >> reporter: he was a motorcycle-riding, pot-smoking, hero of the counterculture. compliments all to dennis hopper, whose life was anything but an easy ride ♪ born to be wild >> reporter: it was that iconic film that rocketed hopper to stardom, firmly entrenching him in the role of social outcast. >> i'm an american! >> reporter: whether in the jungles of vietnam, or the freeways of los angeles -- >> once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. >> hollywood always admired its bad boy, dennis hopper or jack nicholson or robert evans, and i think he certainly falls into that category. >> reporter: hopper's hero was
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another bad boy, james dean. >> what are we going to do with him? >> reporter: he appeared with dean twice in "rebel without a cause cause" and "giant," while dean was broading, dennis was defiant. >> he was always just a brilliant, creative guy who tended to be his own worst enemy. i think that's the key to dennis. >> reporter: born in 1936, in kansas, a farm boy. he saw his first movie at age 5. he was creative early. with art and photography soon becoming passions. but his personal life was painted with torment, marriage after marriage, and then, there were the drugs. >> alcohol and drugs caused me to hit bottom. and i went -- i went insane, hearing voices, classic stuff. >> he was essentially out of control. it created a lot of problems for himself. >> reporter: it earned him a
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reputation for being stubborn and uncooperative. and yet his performances rarely disappointed. >> i wish i could be there. >> reporter: he was nominated twice for an oscar. but it wasn't until this march that hopper finally got his star on the hollywood walk of fame, one of his last public appearances. >> this has been my home and my schooling. and i love all of you. >> love you, dennis! >> love you! >> reporter: he lived and died in two worlds, as much a pariah as a wonder buy, as much a genius as a madman. all the makings of a true hollywood cult figure. lee cowan, nbc news, los angeles. we'll be right back. heel pressure.
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finally tonight, there is nothing quite like it here in new york city. a memorial day holiday tradition when thousands of men and women in uniform and their ships hit town. nbc's peter alexander reports on our favorite in new york, fleet week. >> attention. >> reporter: it is an annual invasion, 4,000 service members, coast guard, navy, and marines, arriving on new york city's shores. fleet week, now in its 23rd year, begins with military precision, a dozen ships steaming up the hudson river with jets soaring overhead. in a city famous for its fast pace and hard edge, these men and women are stopped everywhere they go. >> thank you for your service, sir. >> thank you for supporting us. >> it makes such a difference. >> it is a real eye opener as to
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the gratitude these people have for, you know, service members. >> reporter: lance corporal donnie weller is an iraq war veteran. here for his first fleet week. >> some of the guys are talking about going out and, like, doing it all in one night. you can't. you can't see it all in one night. >> reporter: the highlight for this 22-year-old from pennsylvania -- >> that looks like donnie. >> reporter: an unexpected reunion with a friend from home. >> that's fleet week right there. >> that is insane. >> reporter: many of the sailors and marines are staying here, aboard "the uss iwo jima" at port midtown manhattan. for this corporal, an afghanistan vet, this is one unique view. >> the desert is hot, dry and plain. so in new york, it's something different on every corner. >> reporter: sergeant michael blair, a brooklyn native is finally home, a place he seldom sees. you've been in the fight for most of the last ten years. >> yes, sir, about six years. about six years i've been in the
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fight, yes, sir. >> reporter: where have you been? >> i've been to afghanistan once that was almost a year, and i've been to iraq four times. >> reporter: they are the pride of a nation, enjoying a big city break far from the sacrifices of war. >> it makes me appreciate home. makes me appreciate the states. we have a lot to be thankful for. >> reporter: peter alexander, nbc news, new york. >> and we're glad to have them here. that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today," then right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac --


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